Share this page Print

Lack Of Role Models

Ninety-five percent of Aboriginal youth suffer low self-esteem in relation to their heritage (City of Calgary, 2000). In order to begin addressing this reality, participants in the study consistently mentioned holistic approaches that strengthens the entire family, including extended family members.

I've had a lot of people call me down. Beat me up. Call me names like chug-rubbie even though I don't drink
Aboriginal female - 17 yrs
There are too many Natives on the streets. Most prostitutes are Native
Aboriginal male - 14 yrs

The importance of family as role models cannot be overstated. The experiences of youth, families and the broader community are intertwined. Other Aboriginal youth, parents, siblings, as well as the accepted conduct of the community directly affects the decisions and direction that youth choose to take. Some of the youth we spoke to came from situations of great despair and heightened risk. They had been the direct recipients of racism themselves, intergenerational effects of residential schooling, forced adoption of their parents and cultural fragmentation.

Although they expressed great respect for their peers, families and communities and understood the collective pain and sense of fragmentation, they were searching for a different type of role model.

On the GAP, NIKE commercials they have every other nationality but no Natives. We should be in more commercials
Aboriginal male - 13 yrs
There are not enough role models, singers, students and other young Aboriginal people who have been successful
Aboriginal male - 14 yrs

Youth in school spoke about the desire to have an older Aboriginal youth act as a sounding board for them or a guide in times of stress. It was important for Aboriginal youth to see other "success stories", young people who had often been in similar situations and had chosen a constructive path. These issues were identified as areas for service development. Recommendations will be discussed further in section three.